John the Baptist’s baptism was given by the authority of heaven on or earlier than 30 A.D. while the Great Commission baptism was given by Christ to the apostles near the Sea of Galilee sometime in April or May 33 A.D. after our Lord Jesus resurrected from the dead. The two baptisms are two different ministries and belong to different dispensations.
However, some Bible students use the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist to argue that the Great Commission water baptism in the 21st century is not related to salvation or is not essential to the remission of sins. The argument is that Christ was baptized by John but the baptism did not remove or wash away any sins of Jesus. This kind of argument is wrong because the two baptisms belong to different dispensations. It’s like arguing a legal point in the year 2010 in the Philippines by citing the 1935 Constitution. If a court of justice needs to establish a legal point today it should be based on the 1987 Constitution not on the 1935 Constitution.
Granting but not admitting that John’s baptism of Christ is the basis of arguments then let us enumerate the items attendant to the situation of Christ. If you believe that the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist is not for the forgiveness of sins and you appeal to the situation of Christ, a person today should be similarly situated as that of Christ. We ask the following:
- Christ was the only begotten Son of God, are you also the only begotten Son of God?
- Christ was born of a virgin, are you also born of a virgin?
- Christ was sinless so his baptism was not for the forgiveness of sins, are you also sinless?
- Christ didn’t repent of any sins; do you also claim that you need not repent of any sins?
- Christ was baptized to fulfill all righteousness; do you need to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness?
- Christ insisted to be baptized; do you also insist that you be baptized to fulfill all righteousness?
- Christ didn’t teach he was already forgiven of sins so he needed to be baptized to confess his faith, why do you teach that you are forgiven of sins therefore you need to be baptized to confess your sins?
- Are you aware that the baptism of John was to prepare the way of the Lord and create awareness that the kingdom of Heaven was at hand? Is your baptism today to prepare the way of the Lord and create awareness that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand?
- Christ was not baptized in order to be identified with a Baptist local church, you should not be baptized to become a member of a Baptist local church.
- Christ was baptized so that John would be able to identify Jesus as the promised Messiah. Does the one who baptize you immerse you so he could identify you as the Messiah?
The above questions and declarations, if answered sincerely, make us feel that it is incorrect to cite the case of our Lord Jesus as precedence in the Christian dispensation. Apostle Paul proved that John’s baptism was no longer valid as early as year 56 A.D. as can be understood from Acts 19:1-7. The Ephesian disciples were baptized with the baptism of John which was invalid after the death of Christ. Because John’s baptism was no longer effective, Apostle Paul re-immersed these disciples in Acts 19 the name of Jesus. So what is not a valid baptism today should not be cited to support one’s contention. John’s baptism should not be cited as a basis to negate the Great Commission baptism commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ.
But as far as the ordinary Jews were concerned in the days of John the Baptist, their immersion in water or baptism was for the remission of sins. This is clear in the reading: “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Mark 1:4 NKJV) It should be the situation of the ordinary Jews which is cited and applicable to us as far as the relationship of baptism and forgiveness is concerned. It was for the forgiveness of sins. Incidentally, do our Baptist friends accuse John the Baptist of teaching “Baptismal Regeneration”?
Incidentally, these Bible students who deny the relationship of water baptism and remission of sins, point to the thief on the cross who they say was not baptized yet he was promised paradise. So they imply that since the thief was not baptized, baptism is not essential. But during the personal ministry of John the Baptist you’ll notice the widespread effect of John’s preaching. “And all the land of Judea and those from Jerusalem went out to him and were all baptized by him in the River Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mark 1:5) Note that the multitude of ordinary people (Luke 3:7-11) were baptized, the tax collectors were baptized (Luke 3:12), the soldiers were likewise baptized (3:14). A very strong likelihood is that previous to his crucifixion, the thief was baptized by John so repentance and prayer would be the ones needed and not baptism. See Acts 8:14-25. This is the case of disciple who was previously baptized and when he committed the sin of greed, he was required to repent and pray for forgiveness of sins.
If the thief on the cross is the precedence today to get a promise of paradise, then there’s no need to go into all the world to preach the gospel, just hang yourself on a cross today; no need to teach others all the commandments of Christ, just keep hanging on a cross you plant on your yard is all you do; no need to go to your church assembly, just hang yourself on your cross on Sunday; no need to contribute your means, just hang yourself on your front yard cross; no need to sing your praises to God, just hang yourself on your cross; no need to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, just hang yourself on your wooden cross in imitation of the thief. It is the height of illogical folly to cite one negative characteristic “not baptized” to establish your privilege to get into paradise. ( Eusebio Tanicala)